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About Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)  
Utamaro was a Japanese print maker and painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists of ukiyo-e. He is known especially for his masterful studies of women (bijin-ga). He also produced nature studies, particularly illustrated books of insects.

Utamaro's work reached Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, where it was very popular, enjoying particular acclaim in France. He influenced the European Impressionists, particularly with his use of partial views and his emphasis on light and shade. The reference to the "Japanese influence" among these artists often refers to the work of Utamaro. Utamaro produced over two thousand prints during his working career, along with a number of paintings, surimono, and many illustrated books, including over thirty shunga (erotic) books. Among his best known works are the series Ten Studies in Female Physiognomy; A Collection of Reigning Beauties; Great Love Themes of Classical Poetry; and Twelve Hours in the Pleasure Quarters.

Among his contemporaries, Utamaro alone achieved a national reputation during his lifetime. His sensuous female beauties generally are considered the finest and most evocative bijin-ga in all of ukiyo-e. He succeeded in capturing subtle aspects of personality and transient moods of women of all classes, ages, and circumstances. His reputation has remained undiminished since. Today his work is known worldwide, and he is generally regarded as one of the half-dozen great ukiyo-e artists.

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